It’s not all doom and gloom. This just means publishers will have to reevaluate the ways in which they engage with audiences instead of having to rely on social platforms. The biggest lesson publishers can learn from being dumped by Facebook is not to build their business on someone else’s real estate.
For far too long, Facebook has been the ideal panacea providing media houses a distorted view of reality. Publishers thought they had audiences, when what they really had was traffic. Reach and clicks were the focal points of social media strategies. In reality, focus needed to shift from drive-by traffic to growing the total number of actual subscribers.
- Move from ‘in-feed’ to ‘on-site’. Build long term relationships by producing content that is so good readers become subscribers just to read it
- Capitalise on regional news. Facebook’s latest strategy to get more local content on the network is a great opportunity for regional news publishers
- Start Facebook Groups for high engagement. Produce niche content in sports, gaming, fitness and travel
- Go hard at Email. Talk regularly to actual bona fide readers – people who value their publishing brands and return to their content regularly
- Better discovery mechanisms. Create more contact points and relevant engagement with customers
- Build a lovely garden. Encourage paywall-enabled articles
- Find alternative distribution platforms. Experiment with other ad venues like the open web, Snapchat, LinkedIn and even Facebook’s own Instagram
- Build on trust. Unlike social media platforms with their poor track record of fake news. Publishers have a clear advantage when it comes to public trust. Need to leverage this smartly.
- Algorithmic content discovery. To reclaim audiences, publishers need to move away from chronological content flow and innovate by personalizing the editorial experience. Social media platforms made the jump from chronological to algorithmic content display years ago.
- Think like marketeers. Publishers can grow valuable high margin inventory, monetize new and archived content. Truly market specific content instead of simply feeding articles for traffic.
- Premium customers. Need to come up with new premium products – Washington Post offers software services and New York Times is investing heavily in VR technology.
- Invest in video a strategy. Choose formats cleverly and choose formats that can be automated easily; videos and images are formats that can easily be automated.
If Publishers seriously develop their own brands, who knows, one day Facebook might realise it needs publisher content more than it thought. Maybe it’ll even consider a proper partnership, paying for content the way it has long been suggested.
In the long run, Facebook’s News Feed changes aren’t such a bad thing for publishers. One might even say it’s great news.